Hard Survival: Bipolar Disorder and Addiction

Bipolar Disorder and Addiction Counselling

My family history is one of mental illness and addiction. My father quit drinking when I was twelve, by now I believe the damage of alcoholism had set in. His mother suffered with bipolar disorder which was untreated for years.

I became an addict and with a lot of love and support from my older sister and truly caring non-judgemental professionals, at 30, I became sober. I chose to enter the helping field, since drugs had taken me places I know I would have never gone. I wanted to be there for people once they came back as I did with an assuring smile and words of encouragement. I worked in an addiction treatment facility for women for five years then with mental health and addiction for the past fourteen years. In mental health, I worked with persons with severe and persistent mental health struggles. Being familiar with Bipolar as two of my sisters’ also had this diagnosis; I truly believed I understood.

I was diagnosed at the age of 49, I could never have imagined. Due to important trauma in my life at that time, I had honestly lost control of my mind. I believe myself to be a reasonable person. In mania, I was nearly charged with harassment by the Prime Minister’s office as I chronically called expecting him to meet me at the mall to co-sign a loan for my project; I walked with a huge sense of entitlement. When I crashed, I had convinced myself my one and only daughter would be better off without me. I had a plan. What an intense distortion at both these ends.

Thank God for caring professionals, family and friends or I may not have survived. That I came back from both these life altering afflictions I walk with a much deeper appreciation and a better understanding of the struggles my clients walk with. Please remind people they are not their disease, they simply have it, and with the right treatment it can go into remission. Since entering this field, I have always believed that where there is breath there is hope, this has never been shaken. I also know that I am one of the lucky ones.